Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2015

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Improvements planned for 3 downtown Las Vegas casinos


Justin M. Bowen / File photo

The Fremont Street Experience and Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas are shown.

CARSON CITY – Veteran casino executive Anthony F. Santo, who has gained preliminary approval to run three downtown Las Vegas casinos, said renovations are being planned for the properties.

The state Gaming Control Board on Wednesday recommended approval for Santo to manage the Plaza Hotel and Casino, the Las Vegas Club Hotel and Casino and the Western Hotel and Casino.

Santo, who is a consultant for Tamares, the landlord of the three properties, said negotiations are under way for a $20 million loan to refurbish the rooms at the Plaza and to rename it the Union Plaza.

There also will be theme changes in the Las Vegas Club, he said. He added that the Western will see fewer changes, with some possible slot machine upgrades for its mostly locals market.

During the remodeling at the Plaza, some customers will be moved to the Las Vegas Club, Santo told the board.

Santo will continue as a consultant for Tamares as he takes on his role as manager of the three casinos. Under questioning by board member Randy Sayre, Santo said he would have “no problem telling them (Tamares) that this is not their jurisdiction,” regarding the day-to-day management of the three hotel-casinos.

Santo has headed a number of large casinos in Las Vegas, Reno and outside Nevada, and his application will come up for final approval before the state Gaming Commission Aug. 19.

He acknowledged it has been a tough market not only for downtown Las Vegas but also for Strip casinos. Outside the meeting, he said there are “positive signs” in the downtown area.

The board also recommended approval for Patti Lynn Sarles Hart to be president/CEO and director at International Game Technology.

Hart said it has been a challenging economic climate and profits were down 7 percent in the third quarter of the fiscal year. But she said there were “new opportunities” in Illinois, Ohio, Italy and Greece for the company.

The board also recommended that Gaughan South, which operates at least eight sports books at various casinos, be allowed to expand into the Riverside Resort & Casino in Laughlin and the Carson Valley Inn in Minden.

The board also voted to permit Glenn C. Christenson to withdraw his application to be a director at Tropicana Entertainment Inc., in Las Vegas.

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